The Contrarian returns for Week 8 to help you find some under the radar plays for your lineups. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been establishing how much of a difference a little uniqueness can make for our lineups by looking at the Top 10 finishers in the Millionaire Maker from the previous week. Each week, the top 10 finishers have had varying numbers of players that were owned on less than 10% of all rosters in the tournament. While there hasn’t been a clear magic number that we can pinpoint as the ideal number of unique players to shoot for, this week gave us a pretty clear indication of a good baseline number to use.
All ten lineups had at least two players that were under 10% owned. The lineup with the largest amount of unique players was the number five finisher with five such players, while the lowest number was two unique players for the number ten finisher. The remaining eight lineups had either three or four unique players, with three unique players the clear leader by being the choice for six of the lineups. We leaned towards three being a good baseline to shoot for last week. Week 7 further confirmed this theory for us.
With three contrarian players as a baseline, we have plenty of room to balance out our lineups as we see fit. We can look to higher-owned chalk plays, value plays or a combination of both. There are no one size fits all answers that apply to each week. Some weeks will be very chalk-heavy, where a lot of the consensus top plays shine through. There will be weeks where everything gets turned upside down a bit and a bunch of players nobody was talking about become the week’s stars. In between, there will be plenty of balanced weeks, where some of the chalk comes in while others fall flat, complemented by some players that seemingly come out of nowhere.
That’s one of the big reasons we strive for balance in our lineups. Each week, we want to take a look at the chalk plays and ask ourselves: Which of these guys are for real and which ones can we take a pass on? We do the same thing form a contrarian perspective, but ask ourselves a different question for the guys that are flying under the radar: Is this one of the week’s hidden gems or is he receiving no attention because he’s simply a bad play for this week?
Another week brings us another search and The Contrarian is here to help you sift through the noise and dig a little deeper to find the week’s hidden gems. We have some players in projected high-scoring games, some big name players that aren’t attracting much attention this week and some players that many will be scared off of due to their matchup. We’ll begin our search with the quarterback position.
Joe Flacco, $5,500
The Ravens host the Chargers on Sunday for a game with the highest projected total of the week at 50 points. Both teams have struggled to fill up the win column as the Ravens come in with a disappointing record of 1-6 while the Chargers enter the week at 2-5, with both teams entering the game on three game losing streaks. Something has to give for one of these teams on Sunday, but either way the forecast calls for points.
While Philip Rivers and the pass-happy Chargers will capture plenty of attention, Flacco may fly a little under the radar and becomes an interesting contrarian selection. The Chargers have allowed five passing touchdowns over the past two games and have allowed multiple touchdown passes in five games this season. While Flacco is only averaging 17.8 points per game this season, he has exceeded 20.0 points on four occasions. The Ravens are only a 3 ½-point favorite, pointing us to a close game that should see both teams posting scores in the 20s. Look for Flacco to provide more than 3x return on his $5,500 salary with an outside shot at returning 4x value.
Eli Manning, $6,600
Manning and the Giants travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in another potentially high-scoring game with a projected total of 49 points. Similar to the game between the Ravens and Chargers, most of the attention will be given to one of the quarterbacks in this matchup. In this case, that will be Drew Brees. We’ll pivot to the other side and select the lower-owned quarterback with just as much upside.
The Saints have allowed 14 passing touchdowns through seven games. In four of those games, the opposing quarterback has thrown for 300+ yards. Manning is averaging 16.8 points per game, but has only reached the 20-point plateau twice. The last two weeks have not been kind to Manning from a fantasy perspective as he scored 10.76 points in Week 6 and followed that up with 6.4 points in Week 7. Look for the Giants passing game to get back on track this Sunday in a potential shootout in the Superdome.
Jonathan Stewart, $4,100
While most of the attention for Monday Night’s game between the Panthers and Colts will be centered on Cam Newton, keep Stewart on your radar as lower-owned player with upside at a great price. Stewart started off the season pretty quiet but has come to life over the past two games. He followed up Week 6’s output of 21.6 points with 15.5 points in Week 7. The Colts have been very vulnerable against the run and allowed 187 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last week against the Saints. Stewart is a low cost and different way to gain some exposure to the Monday Night game.
Darren McFadden, $3,800
McFadden put his stamp on the Cowboys starting running back gig with 162 combined yards and a touchdown last week. That output and his projected role going forward are not reflected in this week’s price and we can select McFadden for a bargain basement price. The Cowboys face the Seahawks this week which will scare many DFSers away. While the Seahawks still have their moments where they can impose their will on defense, they are not the same team as evidenced by their 3-4 record. McFadden may not match last week’s production, but he doesn’t have very far to go to reach 4x value.
Alshon Jeffery, $6,400
Jeffery is a high-level receiver that is priced well below his potential output. He returned to action in Week 6, prior to the Bears bye week. He proceeded to snag eight balls for 147 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. While the Vikings are a little tougher against opposing receivers, Jeffery still has great potential for some solid production as the top receiving option for the Bears. He has seen 22 targets thrown his way through only two games and should see plenty more on Sunday. Look for Jeffery to easily pay off his salary and for the Bears to possibly come in with a little spark off of the bye.
A.J. Green, $7,600
Green has had only one monster performance this year, which came in Week 3’s game against the Ravens. The Bengals are another team coming in off of their bye week that could come in with a little pep in their step, which bodes well for Green and the Bengals passing game. Andy Dalton is playing at another level this season while averaging 25.0 points per game. With a huge divisional matchup on tap, look for the strong play to continue and for Green to be one of the biggest beneficiaries this week.
Benjamin Watson, $3,500
Watson is quietly third on the Saints in targets with 38 and tied for the team lead in 20+ yard receptions with seven. He has become a Drew Brees favorite and offers us a low cost way to gain some exposure to a projected high-scoring game. He’s averaging only 10.8 points per game but only two weeks removed from a monster outing against the Falcons, when he caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. A simple line of four catches for 40 yards and a score will provide a 4x return on his low salary while freeing up a ton of cap space.
Larry Donnell, $3,300
From the same game, we have another low cost tight end that receives plenty of targets. Donnell is second on the Giants in targets with 40 and is averaging 8.6 points per game. That kind of output won’t do much for our standings on the leaderboard, but there’s the potential for plenty more as the Saints have struggled against opposing tight ends in several games this year. Using the same simple line of 4/40/1 that we used for Watson would provide a more than 4x return on his $3,300 salary. Donnell will also free up plenty of salary cap space, helping you to squeeze in that higher cost player that you had your eye on.
Dallas Cowboys, $2,700
The Cowboys opponent will capture plenty of attention on the defensive front, but we can save $1,000 by looking to the Cowboys and maybe receive just as much upside. The Seahawks have allowed two big games to opposing defenses: Week 1 against the Rams and Week 4 against the Lions. While the Cowboys have only had one game of huge output – Week 2 against the Eagles – the potential is there for more. Each week, we have a sleeper defense that comes out of nowhere and produces. Keep the Cowboys in mind as one of Week 8’s candidates to fulfill that role.
Tennessee Titans, $2,500
The Titans are another sleeper defense that is facing a team that has allowed some big performances in 2015: Week 4 versus the Falcons and last week versus the Dolphins. Both teams are struggling, making either defense from this game an appealing target. While many will consider the Texans, few will have the Titans on their radar, qualifying them as a contrarian selection. The Texans lost one of their biggest offensive weapons last week and just seem a little more off than the Titans, who make for an interesting but risky target at a low price of $2,500.
That brings The Contrarian for Week 8 to a close. While we search for balance for our rosters and hope for a balanced week overall, we’ll need to find just the right amount of uniqueness to set us apart. Keep the above 10 players in mind as some potential diamonds in the rough. Best of luck this weekend!